Hudson Wilt of Nashville got in a groove and never left it in firing a sizzling 8-under par 62 on Sunday to lead the 13-14 age division by three strokes after the first round of the Press Thornton Future Masters at the Dothan Country Club.
“You’ve got to stay in it when you’re there,” Wilt said.
He certainly did.
After a par on the first hole, Wilt had four birdies in a row and parred out the front nine to make the turn at 4-under.
“I birdied hole No. 5, which was the last of my four birdies starting on No. 2,” Wilt said. “I made like an 18-footer that broke a lot to the right. Everything else was just inside of 10 feet and I made it.”
He continued the hot play on the back nine by going birdie, par, birdie, par, birdie, bogey, birdie, par and birdie.
“I shot like 67s in tournaments, but I’ve never shot 62,” the 14-year-old said.
Wilt’s power game was the key.
“I’m a little longer than the rest of the field,” Wilt said of off the tee. “I can reach every par 5. I can hit some greens in one.”
Not surprising, Wilt doesn’t plan any strategy changes going into the second round on Monday.
“I’ll just reset and act like I’m all square with the field,” Wilt said.
William Jennings of Greenville, S.C., is within striking distance of the leader after shooting a fine 5-under 65. Five golfers are at 67 — Trey Marrion of Chesapeake, Va., Jack Vojtko of Stow, Ohio, Bowen Ballis of Shenandoah, Texas, Alex Long of Toronto and Kristoffer Kuvaas of Houston.
Dothan’s Mason Crowder is among four with rounds of 68, while four others came in at 69.
Vojtko, who started on the back nine, benefitted from two long birdie putts in scoring his 67.
“My first nine, I was striking the ball really well and was hitting my wedges nice and close on the green and gave myself lots of good birdie attempts,” he said. “On 17 and 18 I rolled in two 15-footers for birdie, which helped out.
“On my back nine, which was the front, I started off well striking the ball. On the third hole, I missed the green and got a good up and down. I had a couple of mistakes mentally and made two bogeys.”
Vojtko believes having an early tee time as he did on Sunday was helpful.
“I think it’s an advantage to go out early in the morning when it’s nice and cool and you don’t have to worry about drinking a bottle of water every hole,” Vojtko said.
Marrion dropped a long birdie putt on No. 16 during his round of 3-under.
“I was coming off a disappointing bogey on 15 where I lipped out,” Marrion said. “I just told myself that’s just one hole. I can make some birdies.
“I had about a 35-footer downhill with a big breaker to the right and knocked it in. I was like, ‘That’s a bonus.’ I just continued to play well after that.”
Rinkol is playing in the Future Masters for the first time and was happy with his round of 68, which included birdies on Nos. 5, 6, 9, 12 and 16.
“I actually played a course two weeks ago back in Kansas and it’s exactly like this,” Rinkol said. “A lot of courses in Kansas are tight. I usually hit my driver straight, but not as far. So this course suits my game very well.
“I was hitting my driver good off the tee and giving myself good position into the green with short irons and wedges. These greens are very fast and smooth, so you can make a lot of putts if you’re in the right position. Overall, it was a really good round and I’m very excited.”
Harrison Parker of Mountain Brook had good luck on the greens as well during his round of 68.
“I was rolling the ball really well,” Parker said. “I was able to make some putts that normally wouldn’t fall for me. I was knocking my irons pretty tight.
“I didn’t hit many fairways at all, but I was able to hit some greens and hit the ball close to the hole. Being able to putt well, it just all flowed together.”
See futuremastersgolf.com for a complete listing of Sunday’s scores and tee times for Monday.